Peeled back: 'Overtly sexual' onions get Facebook reprieve

The company says automated technology is used to to keep nudity off its apps, but 'sometimes it doesn’t know a walla walla onion from a, well, you know.'

Sometimes the algorithm 'doesn't know a walla walla onion from a, well, you know,' says Facebook

After Facebook initially told the Gaze Seed Company in St. John's its picture of walla walla onions was too 'overtly sexual' for advertising on the site, the social media giant has now restored the ad. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

After a St. John's seed company's onions were deemed too sexy for Facebook, the social media giant says the advertisement has now been restored.

On Tuesday, Gaze Seed company manager Jackson McLean told CBC News the business was unable to advertise its walla walla onions on the site, after a photo of the product was deemed "an overtly sexual image." by Facebook.

"I guess something about the two round shapes there could be misconstrued as boobs or something, nude in some way," McLean said Monday. "I just thought it was funny."

On Wednesday, Facebook issued a statement to CBC News saying the ad had been restored and that Gaze Seed Company is now able to use the photo on the site.

"We use automated technology to keep nudity off our apps," wrote Meg Sinclair, Facebook Canada's head of communications. "But sometimes it doesn't know a walla walla onion from a, well, you know. We restored the ad and are sorry for the business' trouble."

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Alex Kennedy


Alex Kennedy is a digital reporter with CBC Newfoundland and Labrador based in Corner Brook. He previously worked with CBC N.L. in St. John's, and has a particular interest in stories about sports and interesting people.

With files from Alex Kennedy and Anthony Germain